Fill a room with European policymakers and ask them about European values. You will quickly become aware of how inflammatory the topic of solidarity has become at EU level. In a continent that is divided, in the minds of many, between the rich, achieving North, the lazy, poor South and the democratically unstable East, solidarity has been the first victim in a war of demagoguery and nationalist rhetoric.
In this polarized climate, dialogue could be the antidote. But constructive conversation, a fundamental pre-condition of solidarity, requires the willingness and ability to listen and to recognize different points of view and, at a time of multiple crises, it’s tempting to cut out conversation and proceed straight to action.
The New Pact for Europe and the Mercator European Dialogue projects address this by making open dialogue and careful process design the tools through which a better understanding of Europe’s divides can be achieved.
Greeks protest austerity in October 2011. The flag reads Bread, Education, Proximity with politicians, With all necessary sacrifices.